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Communication Associate: Public Relations | Lori Melton | | (218) 726-8830

June 18, 2007
Susan Beasy Latto, Director, UMD Public Relations 218 726-8830
Tom Johnson, UMD Large Lakes Observatory 218 726-8128
Erik T. Brown, UMD Large Lakes Observatory 218 726-8991

UMD Faculty and Students to Appear on the Discovery Science Channel

Highlights UMD Geological Studies of Lakes and Sediments in Understanding Global Climate Change

Professors Tom Johnson and Erik Brown of the UMD Large Lakes Observatory (LLO) and Department of Geological Sciences will appear on the Discovery Science Channels television series "Faces of Earth," to be broadcast later this summer.

"Faces of Earth" is a 4-hour series describing how natural forces have continuously reformed Earth - creating its many distinct faces through history. Geoscientists from around the world are interviewed, in conjunction with extensive aerial filming and cutting-edge animation, to provide perspectives on the history of our planet. Some of the topics discussed are - how continents have shifted, how climate has changed, the frequency and intensity of volcanic activity, and how the occurrence of earthquakes has varied---demonstrating how all have contributed to the environment that we view today as "normal."

Evergreen Films of Pacific Palisades, California, under contract to the Discovery Channel, sent a crew to Duluth last fall to film Professor Johnson with students out on Lake Superior aboard the UMD research vessel, the Blue Heron, operated by UMD's Large Lakes Observatory. Onboard the Blue Heron, students were learning navigation skills, record keeping and sampling techniques, focusing mainly on the recovery of sediment cores (which help to unravel the history of the lake as it has formed at the end of the last ice age).

Blue Heron research vessel.
UMD research vessel, Blue Heron.

On the second day in the area, the TV crew filmed Professors Johnson and Brown in the X-ray fluorescence laboratory of the Large Lakes Observatory, where the two were performing analyses of the sediment cores which they recovered from the African tropics as part of a major collaborative study of global climate variability. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation. See description of the ITRAX x-ray fluorescence core scanner (one of only six in the entire world) at

"Faces of Earth" will be telecast at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Science Channel in four episodes:

  • "Assembling America" on Monday, July 23
  • "Shaping the Planet" on Thursday, July 26
  • "Building the Planet" on Thursday, August 2
  • "The Human World" on Thursday, August 9

The UMD segments will be featured in the fourth episode on August 9.

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